So yesterday was Good Friday, and tomorrow is Easter. What to do in the meantime? How about buying some records at your local independent record store?
Yes, today, Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day—the day when music fans around the world show their support of independent record retailers by actually going to the store and buying physical copies of records. (Anyone remember when we did that sort of thing every payday?) While recent controversies have been swirling around the growing annual phenomenon—including allegations that major labels are beginning to muscle out the indies now that RSD has become a “thing”—this year’s Record Store Day still promises to be the best ever, with lots of limited or special-edition releases of favorite albums, plus new and surprise releases you won’t be able to find at any other time, or at any other place. Here are a few examples of what you can pick up at the record store today:
- The final live show by LCD Soundsystem, pressed onto five vinyl albums.
- Nirvana’s “Pennyroyal Tea,” a 7-inch single that was scrapped after the death of Kurt Cobain.
- A 50th-anniversary special edition of Sam Cooke’s Ain’t That Good News? (Well, ain’t it?)
- Jack White’s “Lazaretto”—fans hanging out around Third Man Records will be able to pick up a fresh-pressed copy of what will be “The World’s Fastest Record” later today, as Mr. White is planning to record, press and sell the song all in one day.
- Speaking of Jack White, Third Man Record has issued a surprise release of a covers album by Neil Young titled A Letter Home, just in time for RSD.
- A 7-inch picture-disc of David Bowie’s “1984.”
- …and many others.
Regarding the controversy I mentioned earlier…The Quietus has recently pointed out some instances where RSD has come under fire over the predictable pattern that once something outside the system becomes a “thing,” the system wants to take it over. In this case, major labels are getting more and more in on the action, to the detriment of the indies, and RSD is apparently doing nothing about it—and some indie labels and artists are dropping out and/or criticizing the movement as a result. That being said, you can show your support of independent music, and keep the original intent of Record Store Day intact, by doing one simple thing: buy independent music. When you go to your local record store today, don’t just go for the major label offerings. Look for the deeper, lesser known indie artists, and support them by buying their records. If you want to show even more support, look for releases by artists local to your area, and buy their records as well.
There’s no doubt times are changing, and sometimes good things get lost in the midst of that change. Like you, I love the convenience of downloading my favorite music at will from the Internet, or even streaming it on my iPhone. But buying records at the store is a cool tradition, and with the digital age, the truth is these record stores might not be around forever. (Plus, there’s still nothing that sounds quite like vinyl.) So get out there today, brave the crowds, and buy some records today.
And here’s another tip. Go back on another day. And another. Support your local record retailers, while they’re still around to support.